London Street Preacher Acquitted of Hate Speech After Preaching Biblical Definition of Marriage

"72-year-old street preacher John Sherwood has been cleared of charges of hate speech, a year after an incident in which he was arrested after preaching the traditional definition of marriage in an open air sermon near London’s Uxbridge Underground Station in April 2021." - C.Leaders

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Aaron Blumer's picture

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Many aren't aware (including some members of Congress) that in the U.S. "hate crime" is a sentencing enhancement. You have to commit another 'ordinary' crime that qualifies, then prosecutors might add hate crime charges to make sentencing more severe. Before Clinton signed the Hate Crimes Sentencing Enhancement Act in 1994, motivational factors were already part of our legal system for a variety of crimes.

But in UK and some other countries, you can actually be jailed for saying something deemed hateful--which is a different thing entirely. Because we've gotten comfortable with the terminology "hate crime" in the U.S. there is risk of our approach morphing into UK's approach. That would be tragic--and maybe it wouldn't survive SCOTUS anyway. But in popular consciousness, when an idea catches on, it's often only a matter of time before Congress and even SCOTUS embrace it. It's not imminent though. I don't want to add my voice to the alarmists and fear-mongers we have so many of on the right (as well as the left) these days.

We should call our American thing "hate sentencing" or something like that maybe to keep the distinction sharp.

Views expressed are always my own and not my employer's, my church's, my family's, my neighbors', or my pets'. The house plants have authorized me to speak for them, however, and they always agree with me.